This ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Fan Theory Suggests Ted Exaggerated Barney’s Escapades

Over the course of its nine seasons, hit TV show How I Met Your Mother was nominated for 72 awards, including more than two dozen Emmy Awards.

The show followed Ted Mosby (played by actor Josh Radnor) and his group of best friends, including perennial couple Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel) and Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan); on-again, off-again romantic interest Robin Scherbatsky (Colbie Smulders); and chronic womanizer Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris).

The latter character coined many of the show’s quotable pop culture moments — “Suit up!” and “Legendary!” to name a few — but fans of the show now think there’s less, not more, to Barney’s lifestyle than meets the eye.

‘How I Met Your Mother’ aired for 9 seasons

Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Ted (Josh Radnor)
Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Ted (Josh Radnor) | Richard Cartwright/CBS via Getty Images

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The TV sitcom first hit the airwaves in September 2005, and went on to complete nine full seasons (the series finale aired on March 31, 2014). 

As its name suggests, the show’s premise revolves around lead character Ted Mosby talking to his children about how he met their mother. And while that was the end goal for the overarching character narrative, each episode tended to revolve around Mosby’s group of friends navigating life in New York City. 

Interestingly enough, the actual mother who launched the series (Tracy McConnell, played by Cristin Milioti) doesn’t actually appear until the season eight finale. And in a controversial twist that USA Today called one of the “worst series finales of all time,” the series concludes with Mosby ending up with Smulders’ Scherbatsky after the children’s mother passes away.

Mosby and Stinson were the foundation for the show’s dynamics

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In How I Met Your Mother, Mosby and Stinson are constant foils for each other’s antics. Mosby wasn’t just the main narrator for the show, but also the show’s so-called “straight man” (the one who maintains composure and seriousness during comedic moments).

He’s an architect with a deep-set romantic slant, constantly seeking true love and marriage amidst Manhattan’s complicated dating scene.

Stinson, Mosby’s best friend, is quite the opposite. His entire profile is built around being an over-the-top playboy with a love of whiskey, tailored suits, and women. Whereas Mosby wants to settle down, Stinson is always trying to find a way to meet new women (and break up with the ones he’d just slept with). 

While the show evolves Stinson over time, and even reveals that he’s a loving single dad of a child he had out of a one-night stand, most of the plotlines for this character are about his self-labeled “legendary” escapades. But fans on social media think that much of Stinson’s bravado was based less on his real-life adventures, and more on Mosby’s false narratives.

Fans think Stinson wasn’t really the womanizer he’s portrayed to be

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Mosby narrates and explains many of the characters’ backgrounds and motives. And there have been many times that his descriptions or definitions of characters, storylines or situations weren’t exactly accurate. 

Buzzfeed recently highlighted how self-serving his take on the show’s scenarios were. “He was always going on about what a nice guy he was and how much he deserved true love,” the site reported, “when really, he just acted like an entitled toddler most of the time. He was always the victim somehow.” The site went out to explain how all of his stories were meant to convince his children that they should give him permission to date their aunt Scherbatsky in the series finale. 

Because his portrayal and narrative take on each character had an ulterior motive, fans now think his portrayal of Stinson might have exaggerated Stinson’s playboy lifestyle in order to get his children’s blessing about his relationship with Scherbatsky

“Barney from How I Met Your Mother isn’t actually as much of a womanizer as Ted says he is,” proposes Reddit user hehehaha24 on the social media platform. “Ted’s an unreliable narrator and could’ve presented this image of Barney to his kids either because he was jealous of Barney’s relationship with Robin, or because he wants Barney to look unsuitable for her. That way, Ted’s kids see Ted and Robin as soul mates.”

Another Reddit user named KingBenjamin97 agreed, replying “I’ve heard the theory that Ted put all his one night stand stories on Barney so he doesn’t look bad/manipulative in front of his kids, meaning like 50% of the stories of Barney manipulating women are Ted lying to women to get laid.”

While there have been numerous rumors of How I Met Your Mother spinoffs, including shows like How I Met Your Dad and How I Met Your Father, so far none of these spinoffs have come to fruition. Until then, fans will be left simply theorizing about whether Stinson truly was what the show portrayed him to be.

Include this quote from Reddit: “Barney from How I Met Your Mother isn’t actually as much of a womanizer as Ted says he is. Ted’s an unreliable narrator and could’ve presented this image of Barney to his kids.” Discuss Ted and Barney as characters and the theory that Ted isn’t telling the full truth about Barney’s behavior.